Afghan traders hail Pakistan for lifting ban on trucks
The decision came after the Pakistani Federal Board of Revenue barred National Logistic Cell (NLC), a semi-government transport firm, from using hired trucks to transport Afghanistan-bound containers in order to check possible smuggling.
The move to allow NLC to once more use rented trucks comes after talks between a Pakistani delegation visiting Kabul and Anwarul Haq Ahadi, Afghan’s minister of commerce.
For the past seven months, about 9,000 containers, 40 percent carrying food items, belonging to Afghan traders remained stuck in Karachi owing to the lack of trucks.
"The major reason was the firm's incapability to transport containers for a lack of vehicles," deputy Afghan minister for commerce and industry, Ghulam Ali Elaqi, said.
Afghan traders needed 500 to 1,000 trucks daily to carry their commercial goods to Afghanistan from Karachi, but the NLC only had 200 trucks, he said.
He said rented trucks were now allowed to take Afghan goods in light of an order issued by Pakistan President Asif Ali Zardari. Stranded containers at Karachi port should reach Afghanistan within the next two months, the deputy minister said.
"We will see what new problems arise in this regard. If Afghans are allowed to take their goods on their own, it is possible all the containers will reach Afghanistan in two months," he said.
Elaqi hailed Pakistan's move, but said there was a great need to resolve problems hindering a recently agreed landmark transit trade agreement between the two countries. Implementation of the Pakistan-Afghanistan Transit Trade Agreement has been delayed for four months after authorities in Pakistan asked Afghan traders to provide a bank guarantee for their goods.
The deputy commerce and industry minister said an Afghan delegation, comprising officials from the commerce ministry and the sector representatives, would visit Pakistan in the next three days to discuss issues related to the trade accord.
Head of Afghanistan National Trade Union, Gen. Hotak, also welcomed Pakistan's decision of lifting the ban on rented trucks, saying if Afghans were allowed to transport their own goods, they could be delivered within two months.
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